TIO NYC: Two More Exciting Shows!

TIO NYC: Two More Exciting Shows!

Still on an East Coast cultural roller coaster ride full of thrills (but no spills to date), we were privileged to see two more exciting shows: Faith Ringgold’s “American People” at the New Museum and Jamie Lloyd’s “Cyrano de Bergerac” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Go here for more about New York happenings.

Faith Ringgold, “American People,” at the New Museum through June 5.

Faith Ringgold (1930) is an activist, painter, writer, speaker, mixed-media sculptor, performance artist, author– she has written 17 children’s books – teacher and parent. Processed through the filter of the Black experience in America and her African heritage, Ringgold’s inspiring, often humorous, always incisive take on the human condition is now on display at New York’s New Museum.

The sprawling tribute to the 91-year-old iconic talent mines about 60 years of paintings, sculptures, performance art, and iconic story quilts, which collectively put Ringgold’s world view into high relief. The show is the most comprehensive presentation of this major artist’s output to date.

As the exhibition illustrates, Ringgold’s art and activism are inextricably bound. Her work confronted prejudice directly and makes political statements using the shock value of racial slurs within an image to highlight the ethnic tension, political unrest, and the race riots of the 1960s and 1970s, palettes and geometries adapted from sources as varied as African Bakuba textiles and the paintings of Ad Reinhardt. Each piece provides crucial insight into perceptions of white culture by African Americans – and vice versa. For example, the “stripes” is one painting spell out the slur “nigger.”

A story quilt titled “Tar Beach”  features an urban rooftop commonly used as a place to escape the oppressive heat of an inner city without air-conditioning. Adults visit while kiddos play or sleep on blankets. A daughter dreams of flying freely over all barriers, represented by the George Washington bridge in the background.

Later works deal with prejudice in a different way. They subvert its dark impact by providing young African Americans with positive role models, re-imagining, for example, hurtful racial stereotypes as strong, successful, even heroic women.

And all 13 of the artist’s magical “French Collection” quilts, which imagines the life of a fictional Black artist and model in 1920s Paris, are reunited for the first time in nearly 25 years.

Go here for more.

Director Jamie Llyod’s “Cyrano de Bergerac” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music through May 22.

Image courtesy the show.

Some like it sweet like cotton candy. Like Edmond Rostand’s “Cyrano de Bergerac,” written in 1897 and loosely based on a real character of the same name with a nose of fame.

And some like it hot like Phaal Curry. Like Martin Crimp’s rewrite of Rostand’s original, which removes the powered wigs and replaces rapiers with rap.

This sexy “Cyrano” is directed by minimalist Jamie Lloyd’s and stars James McAvoy as the poet-soldier. His take on the role is physical, fierce and feral.

In this stripped-to-the-bones revival, the nose also goes. But the character is long on eloquence.

“If the nose is in the imagination, then everything else is in the imagination. It really puts the emphasis on language,” Lloyd explained in an Observer interview.

Cyrano’s nose is, in fact, a metaphor for all our insecurities and this production an allegory of inner (Cyrano) and outer beauty (Christian). Only when the protagonist is able to get past his real flaw – insecurity – can he declare his love to Roxane (a passionate, captivating Evelyn Miller), who emerges as the arbiter of those contrasting values.

“…a character paints a sentence on the wall—‘I love words, that’s all’— which is a line Cyrano says later on in the play. That’s the defining idea of this production: the words are everything. In a world where characters are obsessed with language, the use of language can be very dazzling and exciting or it can be deceitful and damaging…,” continued Lloyd in The Observer.

The extraordinary cast is all in and full of rappers, hip-hop artists, spoken-word artists and people into slam poetry.

This Time-Out review sums up further.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.